Sunday, 31 December 2017

Dull December

Sunday 31st. More poor weather, Megan and I visited Widewater with Cookie and walked to Lancing Beach Green and back, just returning as the heavens opened. The Knot was still present, a male Red-breasted Merganser and a Stonechat while the pair of Mute Swans hadn't chased off their 4 youngsters yet. My good intentions to make the most of 10 days off work over Christmas had amounted to almost nothing - a combination of poor weather, apathy and some family commitments.
Knot at Widewater
Saturday 30th. Megan and I took Ruth and Ollie to Ovingdean where we walked the undercliff to Saltdean and back. In places, before the tide dropped, some big waves were breaking on the undercliff and being sent 20 feet into the air. With a westerly wind most then came down vertically and we mostly kept dry. Cookie wasn't keen though. We saw a smart male Black Redstart, at least 3 Rock Pipits and 6 Fulmars effortlessly prospecting along the cliffs. Also a Stonechat near St. Dunstan's. At low tide I visited the Adur where there were about 1000 Herring Gulls gathering before dark. They included a North Thames bird that I had not seen before.
Black Redstart on the undercliff at Ovingdean
Herring Gull X2HT on the Adur
Thursday 28th. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort but forgot her lead so we didn't go to Widewater as well. Two Purple Sandpipers were on the inner pier while single Red-throated Diver, Gannet and auk flew west. In the afternoon Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill seeing a Goldcrest and 6 Long-tailed Tits.
Purple Sandpipers at Shoreham Harbour
Wednesday 27th. A visit to the Adur with Cookie in the hope of something interesting amongst the gulls but the tide wasn't as low as expected and few were present. I did see 3 Ringed Plovers and 56 Dunlin (my highest count this winter). 

Tuesday 26th. We saw a Buzzard over the A23 while driving up to London to see Anna and family.

Monday 25th. The female Goosander was on Widewater first thing while I couldn't pick anything out amongst the 800 Herring Gulls on the Adur at low tide.

Christmas Goosander at Widewater
Sunday 24th. Just 5 Turnstones and 3 Meadow Pipits at Shoreham Fort with Cookie and 600+ Herring Gulls on the Adur.

Saturday 23rd. Megan and I took Cookie for a walk around Steepdown seeing Green Woodpecker, 7 Sky Larks, a female Stonechat, 20 Goldfinches, 40 Linnets and 12+ Corn Buntings. I then returned to Sovereign Harbour where, after an hour of looking, I saw the Black Guillemot. Also Kingfisher and Black Redstart. I called in at Arlington on my way home seeing 3 Black-tailed Godwits and adult Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls (the latter not the white-winged gull I was hoping for). I then got a bit bored and counted Great Crested Grebes (82) and Wigeon (584) during the course of which I saw 8 Gadwall. Perhaps I should have revisited the Cuckmere instead of Arlington as I had originally intended although it was nice to have a good chat with Chris Ball and hear what he'd being seeing on the levels. Neither of us could find the Great Northern Diver although we were not looking too hard.

Corn Bunting at Steepdown
Black Guillemot inside Sovereign Marina

a clue as to where it had come from and how it might have arrived?

adult Yellow-legged Gull at Arlington,maybe not a 100% identification as I never saw its legs
leucistic or flavescent Wigeon at Arlington
Friday 22nd. I took Cookie to Sovereign Harbour where we spent nearly three hours looking for the Black Guillemot without success. I later discovered we'd been concentrating on the wrong area and it was no longer in the outer harbour. We also visited Princes Park, where 2 Tufted Duck were the highlight, and spent a couple of hours with the gull flock in the Cuckmere. This was a very frustrating affair with two birds I thought at the time were probably Caspian Gulls. Closer looks at my poor images of them raised a few questions and perhaps they were hybrids. Other than gulls (there were 800 Great Black-backs present) I saw Green Woodpecker and Raven.
this second winter had a small head, bulging neck and its mantle colour and tertial pattern looked good but the bill didn't really impress, at least not in my images although I never managed one side-on.

it looked a bit more snouty here but it may be just the angle (or wishful thinking)

the wings appeared long, I'm not sure I ever saw much of its legs
this bird I took to be a fourth-winter due to the black marks on the bill. To me it looked good structurally (small head, bulging neck/breast, long legs and trailing vent).
it had long wings and the leg colour looked good although perhaps the mantle was a shade pale?
it had a small dark eye and a reasonably long bill and I was beginning to feel confident it was a Caspian, until it raised its wings ...
no black bar on p10, pity but it had been that sort of a day
 Wednesday 20th. Shoreham Fort with Cookie and nothing amongst the 300+ Herring Gulls roosting by the yacht club, at least not that I could see before another dog walker flushed them. Eleven Greenfinches by the Fort and later in poor visibility a Green Woodpecker at Caste Hill while Nessa was in Woodingdean.

Sunday 17th. Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham and Parham where we saw 3 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards, 5 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 10 Song Thrushes and a Redwing.

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